Birgit Jürgenssen

Markus Schlichter

Markus Schlichter

BICASSO Jürgenssen

Markus Schlichter In: Dirk Luckow (ed.): Picasso in Contemporary Art. Cologne: Snoeck, 2015, p. 348-349.

With the clear statement of “We’re drawing”, the eight-year-old Birgit Jürgenssen begins to fill the first page of a school notebook with sket­ches inspired by Pablo Picasso’s pictures. Page after page, she explores the Spanish artist’s oeuvre and copies his works, which were much admired in their day – at times remai­ning true to the original and at times more freely. In total, she produces 17 drawings that, except for a crossed-out sketch, are all accompanied by titles. Although most of these titles refer to the cont­ents of the pictures, the crucial part of these childhood drawings is the changing signature. At first, the girl merely appropri­ates the sound of the name of her great role model, and signs the sketch “Birgit BICASSO Jürgenssen”, but later on she uses her “actual” first name. From this point on, “BICASSO Jürgenssen” stands for the fusion of two names and two worlds: on the one hand, the eight-year-old, following a not uncommon practice, draws what interests her in the world of a family with an appa­rent interest in music. However, Birgit Jürgenssen goes one crucial step further than similar children, in that she aims to be more than a mere copyist. On the contrary, the young artist stakes a claim to her own aesthetic space in her meaningful identification with the figure of Picasso. This identification already contains a recurring motif in the later work of the Vienna-based artist. She repeatedly gains creative power through her dialogue with her personal influences. In particular, the critical and at the same time subtle questio­ning of her role in society as a woman – often seen as the core of her oeuvre – emerges from her involvement with a changing array of role models. The artist uses the determi­nation of cultu­rally defined reference points and their incorporation into her art to expand her own iden­tity, by continually resyn­thesizing her sense of self from various iden­ti­ties. Relating to the “early work” BICASSO Jürgenssen, this process of dissolving boundaries surely takes place on an intuitive level, in light of her age, but with her later publication of this “first book” as a facsimile in 1994, Birgit Jürgenssen accorded her childhood encounter with Picasso an initial role in her continuing involvement with her own relati­ons­hips to herself.